1 As lately musing in a lonely shade,
2 For meditation and contentment made,
3 The murm'ring streams reecho'd thro' the trees,
4 And verdant poplars, fan'd the gentle breeze,
5 All dwelt serene within my tranquil breast,
6 And sweet retirement, lull'd my soul to rest:
7 Delightful fancy lent her potent aid,
8 And scenes of wonder, to my sense convey'd.
9 Transported to a verdant blooming green,
10 Where all was calm, and nature shone serene:[Page 119]
11 The daisy painted ground, perfum'd the air,
12 And sweet contentment, seem'd to banish care,
13 A group of lovely damsels caught my eye,
14 And each in youth and beauty strove to vie;
15 Yet two shone more resplendent than the rest,
16 One in a purple, airy, flowing vest;
17 Her temples bound with flow'rs of diff'rent hue,
18 The lilly white, the violet azure blue,
19 Her tender feet with glitt'ring sandals bound,
20 Trip't lightly o'er the flow'ry painted ground.
21 Her golden locks flow'd careless in the wind.
22 And her whole dress was loose and unconfin'd.
23 The other, clad in purity, and truth,
24 With all the blooming, radiant charms of youth,
25 White was her robe, bright auborn was her hair,
26 Meek her deportment, and serene her air;[Page 120]
27 Her looks outvied the pure and unsun'd snow,
28 And wreaths of laurel, bound her sacred brow,
29 Her friend was wisdom, who with heav'nly song,
30 With caution lead her mistress thro' the throng.
31 Her breath with ambient sweets perfum'd the ground,
32 And calm serenity shone all around;
33 Each strove by turns to sooth the giddy croud,
34 Courted the humble, and implor'd the proud.
35 The first was pleasure (soft alluring name,)
36 The other virtue, surest guide to fame.
75 The journey long, the fare was mean and coarse,
76 The road was rugged, and the task was worse;
77 Our gentle guides were Patience, Hope, and Truth,
78 (The best supporters of each virtuous youth)
79 Each friend, by turns, sooth'd my advent'rous heart,
80 And tales of truth, and honor did impart.
81 When, on a sudden, horrors spread around,
82 And echo'd thro' the grove an hollow sound;
83 The clouds grew black, all nature seem'd to fade,
84 And sicken o'er the solemn lonely glade;
85 Naught could be heard but silver falling floods,
86 And woe fraught murmurs reign'd throughout the woods.[Page 124]
87 Confusion struck my frame, when Patience cry'd,
88 "Fear not, fair nymph, in me alone confide;
89 "In a short time these dreadful storms shall cease,
90 "And I will crown your toil, with joy, and peace.
91 "E'er you arrive where bliss eternal reigns,
92 "You first must learn to scorn such trifling pains;
93 "The pure seraphic mind which virtue warms,
94 "Must bare serenely these tempestuous storms;
95 "The feeling heart must many crosses know,
96 "In virtue's cause, — where fortune proves a foe:
97 "Let not these trifles your soft breast alarm,
98 "Patience will guide you free from every harm."
99 Here ceas'd the virgin, the prophetic sound,
100 And gleams of heavenly light shone all around;
101 The clouds dispers'd, the storm and tempest ceas'd,
102 And every visionary care decreas'd.[Page 125]
103 The flowers recover'd their delightful hue,
104 And nature shone in all her bloom anew;
105 No scent more fragrant does the rose exhale,
106 Then those which fan'd the sweet ambrosial gale.
107 At a small distance stood the peaceful cell,
108 Where innocence and harmony do dwell;
109 No pompous grandeur there adorns the grove,
110 No spiery turrets rear their heads above;
111 No gilded columns, no gay temples rise,
112 There no luxurious dome invades the skies;
113 Alone for peace the humble cell was made,
114 And sweet contentment, reigns within the shade:
115 A purling stream in soft meanders glide,
116 The violet sweet, and daizy blooms beside:
117 Fair honor reigns supreme and void of care,
118 Each heavenly blessing does inhabit there.[Page 126]
119 With meek humility, with truth divine,
120 And ev'ry virtue bows before the shrine.
121 Love, the soft moulder of the pliant soul,
122 (Whose power our wishes and our minds controul;)
123 Within these sacred shades serenely mov'd,
124 By virtue guided, and by heav'n approv'd.
125 Enraptur'd I beheld those regions bright,
126 And scenes of wonder beam'd upon the sight;
127 Harmonious songsters I distinctly heard,
128 And soft musicians in the grove appear'd:
129 While thus I stood intent to see and hear,
130 A damsel's voice address'd my pensive ear.
131 "Like you a stranger to distress and woe,
132 "Possess'd of all the gifts the gods bestow,
133 "Of all the real blessings heaven can give,
134 "Still my fond soul for other joys did grieve.[Page 127]
135 "Once on a time by giddy fancy taught,
136 "For idle pleasures earnestly I sought;
137 "No well-taught council could my feet restrain,
138 "But pleasures lur'd me to the flow'ry plain;
139 "That sure destruction to the youthful mind,
140 "To her my frail, my willing heart inclin'd.
141 "Long time I revel'd in luxurious joys,
142 "Which ev'ry gen'rous sentiment destroys.
143 "But ah! fair nymph, each pleasure quickly dies,
144 "Where blacken'd vice, fair virtue's place supplies.
145 "Such idle joys last but a fleeting day,
146 "Where vice triumphant reigns with potent sway;
147 "Short was the time these scenes my soul possess'd,
148 "But endless are the pangs within my breast.
149 "No time the stings of conscience can subdue,
150 "Where'er I fly fresh grief my steps pursue;[Page 128]
151 "Conscious of past offence, my erring breast,
152 "Is torn with sad remorse, and rob'd of rest,
153 "I feel, I feel, the heaving sigh renew'd,
154 "And sad rememb'rance on my soul intrude;
155 "Still must my mind with heart felt grief abound,
156 "Till virtue's hand shall heal reflection's wound.
157 "Too late my blinded eyes perceiv'd the road,
158 "Which lead to this celestial, bless'd abode;
159 "Happy are you, whose youthful breast aspires,
160 "With genial warmth, to burn with purer fires.
161 "Who in the tender, early days of youth,
162 "Trod the unsullied paths of sacred truth.
163 "Then hail, fair nymph, hail sweet humility,
164 "Each vot'ry of our shade, shall honor thee.
165 "Enjoy, henceforth, each blessing of the bless'd,
166 "May all thy future days be crown'd with rest. "[Page 129]
167 "Farewell, "she cry'd, — then join'd the happy throng,
168 Who to my list'ning ear address'd their song.
169 "Welcome, welcome, to our cell,
170 "Here content, and peace do dwell;
171 "Every joy to charm the heart,
172 "All that wisdom can impart,
173 "All that can the bosom fire,
174 "All that virtue can desire;
175 "Every blessing from above,
176 "Ease and plenty, joy and love;
177 "Meek humility and rest,
178 "All the transports of the bless'd;
179 "Join with us in sprightly song,
180 "Dance among the happy throng;[Page 130]
181 "Tune the cymbal, and the lyre,
182 "Virtue does our souls inspire;
183 "Prudence, is our matron wise,
184 "Ev'ry folly we despise;
185 "Here the graces keep their court,
186 "Here the muses all resort;
187 "Welcome to this happy cell,
188 "Here content and peace doth dwell.
189 Here ceas'd the tender, soft, alluring throng,
190 Their artless, sweet, prophetic, warmbling song;
191 And I awoke, alas! too soon to find,
192 'Twas only fancy that deceiv'd my mind;
193 But what a change from scenes of tranquil joy,
194 To momentary pleasures born to cloy.