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Here long they knock, but knock or call in vain,
And Nature's fervour through their limbs recalls:
With still remark the pondering Hermit view'd,
When from his vest the young companion bore
But now the clouds in airy tumult fly; The sun emerging opes an azure sky; A fresher green the smelling leaves display, And, glittering as they tremble, cheer the day: The weather courts them from the poor retreat, And the glad master bolts the wary gate.
While hence they walk, the pilgrim's bosom wrought
With all the travel of uncertain thought;
His partner's acts without their cause appear,
Now night's dim shades again involve the sky, Again the wanderers want a place to lie, Again they search, and find a lodging nigh. The soil improved around, the mansion neat, And neither poorly low, nor idly great: It seem'd to speak its master's turn of mind, Content, and, not for praise but virtue, kind.
Hither the walkers turn with weary feet, Then bless the mansion, and the master greet: Their greeting fair, bestow'd with modest guise, The courteous master hears, and thus replies: Without a vain, without a grudging heart, To him who gives us all, I yield a part; From him you come, from him accept it here, A frank and sober, more than costly cheer.' He spoke, and bid the welcome table spread, Then talk'd of virtue till the time of bed, When the grave household round his hall repair, Warn'd by a bell, and close the hours with prayer.
At length the world, renew'd by calm repose, Was strong for toil, the dappled morn arose; Before the pilgrims part, the younger crept Near the closed cradle where an infant slept, And writhed his neck: the landlord's little pride, O strange return! grew black, and gasp'd, and died. Horror of horrors! what! his only son! How look'd our Hermit when the fact was done! Not hell, though hell's black jaws in sunder part, And breathe blue fire, could more assault his heart.
Confused, and struck with silence at the deed, He flies, but, trembling, fails to fly with speed. His steps the youth pursues; the country lay Perplex'd with roads, a servant show'd the way:
A river cross'd the path; the passage o'er
Wild, sparkling rage inflames the father's eyes,
Though loud at first the pilgrim's passion grew, Sudden he gazed, and wist not what to do; Surprise in secret chains his words suspends, And in a calm his settling temper ends. But silence here the beauteous angel broke, (The voice of music ravish'd as he spoke):
'Thy prayer, thy praise, thy life, to vice unknown, In sweet memorial rise before the throne: These charms success in our bright region find, And force an angel down to calm thy mind; For this commission'd, I forsook the skyNay, cease to kneel-Thy fellow-servant I. Then know the truth of government divine, And let these scruples be no longer thine.
The Maker justly claims that world he made, In this the right of Providence is laid; Its sacred majesty through all depends On using second means to work his ends: "Tis thus, withdrawn in state from human eye, The Power exerts his attributes on high, Your actions uses, nor controls your will, And bids the doubting sons of men be still.
• What strange events can strike with more surprise,
Than those which lately struck thy wondering eyes? Yet, taught by these, confess the' Almighty just, And where you can't unriddle, learn to trust!
The great, vain man, who fared on costly food, Whose life was too luxurious to be good; Who made his ivory stands with goblets shine, And forced his guests to morning draughts of wine; Has, with the cup, the graceless custom lost, And still he welcomes, but with less of cost.
"The mean, suspicious wretch, whose bolted door Ne'er moved in pity to the wandering poor; With him I left the cup, to teach his mind That Heaven can bless, if mortals will be kind. Conscious of wanting worth, he views the bowl, And feels compassion touch his grateful soul. Thus artists melt the sullen ore of lead, With heaping coals of fire upon its head; In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, And, loose from dross, the silver runs below. Long had our pious friend in virtue trod, But now the child half-wean'd his heart from God; (Child of his age) for him he lived in pain, And measured back his steps to earth again.
To what excesses had his dotage run!
• But how had all his fortune felt a wrack, Had that false servant sped in safety back! This night his treasured heaps he meant to steal, And what a fund of charity would fail!
'Thus Heaven instructs thy mind: this trial o'er, Depart in peace, resign, and sin no more.'
On sounding pinions here the youth withdrew, The sage stood wondering as the seraph flew.. Thus look'd Elisha,, when, to mount on high, His master took the chariot of the sky; The fiery pomp ascending left the view; The prophet gazed, and wish'd to follow too.
The bending Hermit here a prayer begun, 'Lord! as in heaven, on earth thy will be done!' Then, gladly turning, sought his ancient place, And pass'd a life of piety and peace.
By the blue taper's trembling light