1 FAR in a Wild, unknown to publick View,
2 From Youth to Age a rev'rend Hermit grew;
3 The Moss his Bed, the Cave his humble Cell,
4 His Food the Fruits, his Drink the chrystal Well:
5 Remote from Man, with God he pass'd the Days,
6 Pray'r all his Bus'ness, all his Pleasure Praise.
7 A Life so sacred, such serene Repose,
8 Seem'd Heav'n it self, 'till one Suggestion rose;
9 That Vice shou'd triumph, Virtue Vice obey,
10 This sprung some Doubt of Providence's Sway:[Page 165]
11 His Hopes no more a certain Prospect boast,
12 And all the Tenour of his Soul is lost:
13 So when a smooth Expanse receives imprest
14 Calm Nature's Image on its wat'ry Breast,
15 Down bend the Banks, the Trees depending grow,
16 And Skies beneath with answ'ring Colours glow:
17 But if a Stone the gentle Scene divide,
18 Swift ruffling Circles curl on ev'ry side,
19 And glimmering Fragments of a broken Sun,
20 Banks, Trees, and Skies, in thick Disorder run.
21 To clear this Doubt, to know the World by Sight,
22 To find if Books, or Swains, report it right;
23 (For yet by Swains alone the World he knew,
24 Whose Feet came wand'ring o'er the nightly Dew)
25 He quits his Cell; the Pilgrim-Staff he bore,
26 And fix'd the Scallop in his Hat before;[Page 166]
27 Then with the Sun a rising Journey went,
28 Sedate to think, and watching each Event.
29 The Morn was wasted in the pathless Grass,
30 And long and lonesome was the Wild to pass;
31 But when the Southern Sun had warm'd the Day,
32 A Youth came posting o'er a crossing Way;
33 His Rayment decent, his Complexion fair,
34 And soft in graceful Ringlets wav'd his Hair.
35 Then near approaching, Father Hail! he cry'd,
36 And Hail, my Son, the rev'rend Sire reply'd;
37 Words followed Words, from Question Answer flow'd
38 And Talk of various kind deceiv'd the Road;
39 'Till each with other pleas'd, and loth to part,
40 While in their Age they differ; joyn in Heart:
41 Thus stands an aged Elm in Ivy bound,
42 Thus youthful Ivy clasps an Elm around.
43 Now sunk the Sun; the closing Hour of Day
44 Came onward, mantled o'er with sober gray;
45 Nature in silence bid the World repose:
46 When near the Road a stately Palace rose:
47 There by the Moon thro' Ranks of Trees they pass,
48 Whose Verdure crown'd their sloping sides of Grass.
49 It chanc't the noble Master of the Dome,
50 Still made his House the wand'ring Stranger's home:
51 Yet still the Kindness, from a Thirst of Praise,
52 Prov'd the vain Flourish of expensive Ease.
53 The Pair arrive: the Liv'ry'd Servants wait;
54 Their Lord receives them at the pompous Gate.
55 The Table groans with costly Piles of Food,
56 And all is more than Hospitably good.
57 Then led to rest, the Day's long Toil they drown,
58 Deep sunk in Sleep, and Silk, and Heaps of Down.
59 At length 'tis Morn, and at the Dawn of Day,
60 Along the wide Canals the Zephyrs play;
61 Fresh o'er the gay Parterres the Breezes creep,
62 And shake the neighb'ring Wood to banish Sleep.
63 Up rise the Guests, obedient to the Call,
64 'An early Banquet deck'd the splendid Hall;
65 Rich luscious Wine a golden Goblet grac't,
66 Which the kind Master forc'd the Guests to taste.
67 Then pleas'd and thankful, from the Porch they go,
68 And, but the Landlord, none had cause of Woe;
69 His Cup was vanish'd; for in secret Guise
70 The younger Guest purloin'd the glittering Prize.
71 As one who 'spys a Serpent in his Way,
72 Glistning and basking in the Summer Ray,
73 Disorder'd stops to shun the Danger near,
74 Then walks with Faintness on, and looks with Fear:[Page 169]
75 So seem'd the Sire; when far upon the Road,
76 The shining Spoil his wiley Partner show'd.
77 He stopp'd with Silence, walk'd with trembling Heart,
78 And much he wish'd, but durst not ask to part:
79 Murm'ring he lifts his Eyes, and thinks it hard,
80 That generous Actions meet a base Reward.
81 While thus they pass, the Sun his Glory shrouds,
82 The changing Skies hang out their sable Clouds;
83 A Sound in Air presag'd approaching Rain,
84 And Beasts to covert scud a cross the Plain.
85 Warn'd by the Signs, the wand'ring Pair retreat,
86 To seek for Shelter at a neighb'ring Seat.
87 'Twas built with Turrets, on a rising Ground,
88 And strong, and large, and unimprov'd around;
89 Its Owner's Temper, tim'rous and severe,
90 Unkind and griping, caus'd a Desert there.
91 As near the Miser's heavy Doors they drew,
92 Fierce rising Gusts with sudden Fury blew;
93 The nimble Light'ning mix'd with Show'rs began,
94 And o'er their Heads loud-rolling Thunder ran.
95 Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain,
96 Driv'n by the Wind, and battered by the Rain.
97 At length some Pity warm'd the Master's Breast,
98 ('Twas then, his Threshold first receiv'd a Guest)
99 Slow creaking turns the Door with jealous Care,
100 And half he welcomes in the shivering Pair;
101 One frugal Faggot lights the naked Walls,
102 And Nature's Fervor thro' their Limbs recals:
103 Bread of the coursest sort, with eager Wine,
104 (Each hardly granted) serv'd them both to dine;
105 And when the Tempest first appear'd to cease,
106 A ready Warning bid them part in Peace.
107 With still Remark the pond'ring Hermit view'd
108 In one so rich, a Life so poor and rude;
109 And why shou'd such, (within himself he cry'd,)
110 Lock the lost Wealth a thousand want beside?
111 But what new Marks of Wonder soon took place,
112 In ev'ry settling Feature of his Face!
113 When from his Vest the young Companion bore
114 That Cup, the gen'rous Landlord own'd before,
115 And paid profusely with the precious Bowl
116 The stinted Kindness of this churlish Soul.
117 But now the Clouds in airy Tumult fly,
118 The Sun emerging opes an azure Sky;
119 A fresher green the smelling Leaves display,
120 And glitt'ring as they tremble, cheer the Day:
121 The Weather courts them from the poor Retreat,
122 And the glad Master bolts the wary Gate.
123 While hence they walk, the Pilgrim's Bosom wrought,
124 With all the Travel of uncertain Thought;
125 His Partner's Acts without their Cause appear,
126 'Twas there a Vice, and seem'd a Madness here:
127 Detesting that, and pitying this he goes,
128 Lost and confounded with the various Shows.
129 Now Night's dim Shades again involve the Sky;
130 Again the Wand'rers want a Place to lye,
131 Again they search, and find a Lodging nigh.
132 The Soil improv'd around, the Mansion neat,
133 And neither poorly low, nor idly great:
134 It seem'd to speak its Master's turn of Mind,
135 Content, and not for Praise, but Virtue kind.
136 Hither the Walkers turn with weary Feet
137 Then bless the Mansion, and the Master greet:
138 Their greeting fair bestow'd, with modest Guise,
139 The courteous Master hears, and thus replies:
140 Without a vain, without a grudging Heart,
141 To Him who gives us all, I yield a part;
142 From Him you come, for Him accept it here,
143 A frank and sober, more than costly Cheer.
144 He spoke, and bid the welcome Table spread,
145 Then talk'd of Virtue till the time of Bed,
146 When the grave Houshold round his Hall repair,
147 Warn'd by a Bell, and close the Hours with Pray'r.
148 At length the World renew'd by calm Repose
149 Was strong for Toil, the dappled Morn arose;[Page 174]
150 Before the Pilgrims part, the Younger crept,
151 Near the clos'd Cradle where an Infant slept,
152 And writh'd his Neck: the Landlord's little Pride,
153 O strange Return! grew black, and gasp'd, and dy'd.
154 Horrour of Horrours! what! his only Son!
155 How look'd our Hermit when the Fact was done?
156 Not Hell, tho' Hell's black Jaws in sunder part,
157 And breathe blue Fire, cou'd more assault his Heart.
158 Confus'd, and struck with Silence at the Deed,
159 He flies, but trembling fails to fly with Speed.
160 His Steps the Youth pursues; the Country lay
161 Perplex'd with Roads, a Servant show'd the Way:
162 A River cross'd the Path; the Passage o'er
163 Was nice to find; the Servant trod before;
164 Long arms of Oaks an open Bridge supply'd,
165 And deep the Waves beneath the bending glide. [Page 175]
166 The Youth, who seem'd to watch a Time to sin,
167 Approach'd the careless Guide, and thrust him in;
168 Plunging he falls, and rising lifts his Head,
169 Then flashing turns, and sinks among the Dead.
170 Wild, sparkling Rage inflames the Father's Eyes,
171 He bursts the Bands of Fear, and madly cries,
172 Detested Wretch — But scarce his Speech began,
173 When the strange Partner seem'd no longer Man:
174 His youthful Face grew more serenely sweet;
175 His Robe turn'd white, and flow'd upon his Feet;
176 Fair rounds of radiant Points invest his Hair;
177 Celestial Odours breathe thro' purpled Air;
178 And Wings, whose Colours glitter'd on the Day,
179 Wide at his Back their gradual Plumes display.
180 The Form Etherial bursts upon his Sight,
181 And moves in all the Majesty of Light.
182 Tho' loud at first the Pilgrim's Passion grew,
183 Sudden he gaz'd, and wist not what to do;
184 Surprize in secret Chains his words suspends,
185 And in a Calm his settling Temper ends.
186 But Silence here the beauteous Angel broke,
187 (The Voice of Musick ravish'd as he spoke)
188 Thy Pray'r, thy Praise, thy Life to Vice unknown,
189 In sweet Memorial rise before the Throne:
190 These Charms, Success in our bright Region find,
191 And force an Angel down, to calm thy Mind;
192 For this commission'd, I forsook the Sky,
193 Nay, cease to kneel — Thy fellow Servant I.
194 Then know the Truth of Government Divine,
195 And let these Scruples be no longer thine.
196 The Maker justly claims that World he made,
197 In this the Right of Providence is laid;
198 Its sacred Majesty thro' all depends
199 On using second Means to work his Ends:
200 'Tis thus, withdrawn in State from human Eye,
201 The Pow'r exerts his Attributes on high,
202 Your Actions uses, not controuls your Will,
203 And bids the doubting Sons of Men be still.
204 What strange Events can strike with more Surprize,
205 Than those which latelystrook thy wond'ring Eyes?
206 Yet taught by these, confess th' Almighty Just,
207 And where you can't unriddle, learn to trust!
208 The Great, Vain Man, who far'd on costly Food,
209 Whose Life was too luxurious to be good;[Page 178]
210 Who made his Iv'ry Stands with Goblets shine,
211 And forc'd his Guests to morning Draughts of Wine,
212 Has, with the Cup, the graceless Custom lost,
213 And still he welcomes, but with less of Cost.
214 The mean, suspicious Wretch, whose bolted Door,
215 Ne'er mov'd in Duty to the wand'ring Poor;
216 With him I left the Cup, to teach his Mind
217 That Heav'n can bless, if Mortals will be kind.
218 Conscious of wanting Worth, he views the Bowl,
219 And feels Compassion touch his grateful Soul.
220 Thus Artists melt the sullen Oar of Lead,
221 With heaping Coals of Fire upon its Head;
222 In the kind Warmth the Metal learns to glow,
223 And loose from Dross, the Silver runs below.
224 Long had our pious Friend in Virtue trod,
225 But now the Child half-wean'd his Heart from God;[Page 179]
226 (Child of his Age) for him he liv'd in Pain,
227 And measur'd back his Steps to Earth again.
228 To what Excesses had his Dotage run?
229 But God, to save the Father, took the Son.
230 To all but thee, in Fits he seem'd to go,
231 (And 'twas my Ministry to deal the Blow)
232 The poor fond Parent humbled in the Dust,
233 Now owns in Tears the Punishment was just.
234 But how had all his Fortune felt a Wrack,
235 Had that false Servant sped in Safety back?
236 This Night his treasur'd Heaps he meant to steal,
237 And what a Fund of Charity wou'd fail!
238 Thus Heav'n instructs thy Mind: This Tryal o'er,
239 Depart in Peace, resign, and sin no more.
240 On sounding Pinnions here the Youth withdrew,
241 The Sage stood wond'ring as the Seraph flew.
242 Thus look'd Elisha, when to mount on high,
243 His Master took the Chariot of the Sky;
244 The fiery Pomp ascending left the View;
245 The Prophet gaz'd, and wish'd to follow too.
246 The bending Hermit here a Pray'r begun,
247 Lord! as in Heaven, on Earth thy Will be done.
248 Then gladly turning, sought his antient place,
249 And pass'd a Life of Piety and Peace.