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Cold and yet cheerful : messenger of grief
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn Throws up a steamy column, and the cups, That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, 40 So let us welcome peaceful ev'ning in. Not such his ev'ning, who with shining face Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeez'd' And bor'd with elbow points through both his sides, Outscolds the ranting actor on the stage :
45 Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb, And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath Of patriots, bursting with heroick rage, Or placemen, all tranquillity and smiles. This folio of four pages happy work!
Which not e'en criticks criticise ; that holds
65 The modest speaker is asham'd and griev'd, T'engross a moment's notice; and yet begs, Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts, However trivial, all that he conceives. Sweet bashfulness; it claims at least this praise : 70 The dearth of information and good sense That it foretells us always comes to pass. Cataracts of declamation thnnder here; There forests of no meaning spread the page, In which all comprehension wanders, lost; While fields of pleasantry amuse us there With merry descants on a nation's woes. The rest appears a wilderness of strange But gay confusion; roses for the cheeks, And lilies for the brows of faded age,
80 Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald, Heav'n, earth, and ocean, plundered of their sweets, Nectareous essences, Olympian dews, Sermons, and city feasts, and favorite airs, Æthereal journeys, submarine exploits, And Katterfelto, with his hair on end At his own wonders, wond'ring for his bread.
'Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
To peep at such a world ; to see the stir
115 Discover countries, with a kindred heart Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes ; While fancy, like the finger of a clock, Runs the great circuit, and is still at home. O Winter, ruler of th’inverted year,
120 Thy scatter'd hair with sleet like ashes fill’d, Thy breath congeald upon thy lips, thy cheeks Fring'd with a beard made white with cther snows Than those of age, thy forehead wrapp'd in clouds, A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
125 A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg'd by storms along its slipp'ry way,
135 And gath’ring, at short notice, in one group The family dispers’d, and fixing thought, Not less dispers’d by daylight and its cares. I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness, 140 And all the comforts that the lowly roof Of undisturb’d Retirement, and the hours Of long, uninterrupted ev’ning know. No rattling wheels stop short before these gates ; No powder'd pert proficient in the art
145 Of sounding an alarm, assaults these doors Till the street rings; no stationary steeds Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound, The silent circle fan themselves, and quake ; But here the needle plies its busy task,
150 The pattern grows, the well-depicted flow'r, Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn, Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs, And curling tendrils, gracefully disposd, Follow the nimble finger of the fair ;
155 A wreath, that cannot fade, or flow'rs that blow With most success when all besides decay. The poet's or historian's page by one Made vocal for th' amusement of the rest : 159 The spright:y lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds The touch from many a trembling chord shakes out; And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct, And in the charming strife triumphant still, Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On femalo industry: the threaded steel
165 Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds. The volume clos'd, the customary rites Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal: Such as the mistress of the world once found Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
170 Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors, And under an old oak’s domestick shade, Enjoy'd, spare feast! a radish and an egg. Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull, Nor such as with a frown forbids the play 175 Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth : Nor do we madly, like an impious World, Who deem religion frenzy, and the God That made them an intruder on their joys, Start at his awful name, or deem his praise 180 A jarring note. Themes of a graver tono Exciting oft our gratitude and love, While we retrace with Mem’ry's pointing wand, That calls the past to our exact review, The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare, 185 The disappointed foe, deliv’rance found Unlook'd for, life preserv'd, and peace restor'd~ Fruits of omnipotent eternal love. O ev'nings worthy of the gods! exclaim'd The Sabine bard. O ev'nings, I reply,
190 More to be priz’d and coveted than yours, As more illumin'd, and with nobler truths, That I, and mine, and those we love, enjoy.
Is Winter hideous in a garb like this? Needs he the tragick fur, the smoke of lamps, 195 The pent-up breath of an unsav'ry throng, To thaw him intu feeling, or the smart And snappish dialogue, that flippant wits Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile ? The self-complacent actor, when he views 200 (Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house) The slope of faces, from the floor to th' roof