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Of every stay, save Innocence and Heaven,
She, with her widow'd mother, feeble, old,
And poor, liv'd in a cottage, far retird
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deep surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty, conceal’d.
Together thus they shunn'd the cruel scorn
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
From giddy passion and low-minded pride:
Almost on Nature's common bounty fed ;
Like the gay birds that sung them to repose,
Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare.
Her form was fresher than the morning rose,
When the dew wets its leaves; unstain'd and pure,
As is the lily, or the mountain snow.
The modest Virtues mingled in her eyes,
Still on the ground dejected, darting all
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers :
Or when the mournful tale her mother told,
Of what her faithless fortune promis'd once,
Thrilld in her thought, they, like the dewy star
Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat fair-proportion'd on her polish'd limbs,
Veild in a simple robe, their best attire,
Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is when unadorn'd, adoru'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was Beauty's self,
Recluse amid the close-embowering woods.
As in the hollow breast of Appenine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild ;
So flourish'd blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia ; till, at length, compellid
By strong Necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Palemon was, the generous, and the rich;
Who led the rural life in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadian song
Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times;
When tyrant custom had not shackled man,
But free to follow Nature was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper-train
To walk, wben poor Lavinia drew his eye ;
Unconscious of her power, and turning quick
With unaffected blushes from his gaze :
He saw her charming, but he saw not half
The charms her down-cast modesty conceald.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown;
For still the world prevailid, and its dread laugh,
Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn,
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field ;
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh'd :-
“ What pity! that so delicate a form,
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense
And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell,
Should be devoted to the rude embrace
Of some indecent clown! she looks, metbinks,
Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind
Recalls that patron of my happy life,
From whoin my liberal fortune took its rise;
Now to the dust gone down; his houses, lands,
And once fair-spreading family, dissolv'd.
'Tis said that in some lone obscare retreat,
Urgʻd by remembrance sad, and decent pride,
Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
Whom yet my fruitless search could never find.
Romantic wish! would this the daughter were!"
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found
She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
Of bountiful Acasto; who can speak
The mingled passions that surpris'd his heart,
And through his nerves in shivering transport ran ?
Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avow'd, and bold;
And as he view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er,
Love, gratitude, and pity wept at once.
Confus'd, and frightend at his sndden téars,
Her rising beauties tlusli’d a higher bloom,
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Poor'd out the pious rapture of his soul :
" And art thou then Acasto's dear remains ? She, whom my restless gratitude has sought, So long in vain? O heavens! the very same, The softened image of my noble friend, Alive his every look, his every feature, More elegantly tonch’d. Sweeter than Spring! Thou sole snrviving blossom from the root That nourish'd up my fortune! say, ah where, In what sequester'd desert, hast thou drawn The kindest aspect of delighted Heaven? Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair ; Though Poverty's cold wind, and crushing rain, Beat keen, and heavy, on thy tender years? O let me now, into a richer soil, [showers, Transplant thee safe! where vernal suns, and Diffose their warmest, largest influence; And of my garden be the pride and joy!
Ill it befits thee, oh it ill befits
Acasto's daughter, his, whose open stores,
Though vast, were little to his ampler heart,
The father of a country, thus to pick
The very refuse of those harvest-fields,
Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy.
Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand,
But ill apply'd to such a rugged task ;
The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine ;
If to the various blessings which thy house
Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss,
That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee !"
Here ceas'd the youth: yet still his speaking eye
Express’d the sacred triumph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
Above the vulgar joy divinely rais’d.
Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm
Of goodness irresistible, and all
In sweet disorder lost, she blush'd consent.
The news immediate to her mother bronght,
While, pierc'd with anxious thought, she pin’d away
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate;
Amaz'd, and scarce believing what she heard,
Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam
Of setting life shone on her evening hours :
Not less epraptur'd than the happy pair;
Who flourish'd long in tender bliss, apd rear'd
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
And good, the grace of all the country round.
Defeating oft the labours of the year,
The sultry soath collects a potept blast.
At first, the groves are scarcely seen to stir
Their trembling tops ; and a still murmur runs
Along the soft-inclining fields of corn.