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- The Borough - 30/45 -


The cheerful, tender, soft, complacent mind. That would the feelings, which he dreads, excite, And make the virtues he approves delight; What dying martyrs, saints, and patriots feel, The strength of action and the warmth of zeal. Again attend!--and see a man whose cares Are nicely placed on either world's affairs, - Merchant and saint; 'tis doubtful if he knows To which account he most regard bestows; Of both he keeps his ledger: --there he reads Of gainful ventures and of godly deeds; There all he gets or loses find a place, A lucky bargain and a lack of grace. The joys above this prudent man invite To pay his tax--devotion!--day and night; The pains of hell his timid bosom awe, And force obedience to the church's law: Hence that continual thought,--that solemn air, Those sad good works, and that laborious prayer. All these (when conscience, waken'd and afraid, To think how avarice calls and is obey'd) He in his journal finds, and for his grief Obtains the transient opium of relief. "Sink not, my soul!--my spirit, rise and look O'er the fair entries of this precious book: Here are the sins, our debts;--this fairer side Has what to carnal wish our strenetb denied; Has those religious duties every day Paid,--which so few upon the Sabbath pay; Here too are conquests over frail desires, Attendance due on all the church requires; Then alms I give--for I believe the word Of holy writ, and lend unto the Lord, And if not all th' importunate demand, The fear of want restrains my ready hand: - Behold! what sums I to the poor resign, Sums placed in Heaven's own book, as well as mine: Rest then, my spirit!--fastings, prayers, and alms, Will soon suppress these idly-raised alarms, And weigh'd against our frailties, set in view A noble balance in our favour due: Add that I yearly here affix my name, Pledge for large payment--not from love of fame, But to make peace within;--that peace to make, "What sums I lavish! and what gains forsake! Cheer up, my heart! let's cast off every doubt, Pray without dread, and place our money out." Such the religion of a mind that steers Its way to bliss, between its hopes and fears; Whose passions in due bounds each other keep, And thus subdued, they murmur till they sleep; Whose virtues all their certain limits know, Like well-dried herbs that neither fade nor grow; Who for success and safety ever tries, And with both worlds alternately complies. Such are the Guardians of this bless'd estate, Whate'er without, they're praised within the gate; That they are men, and have their faults, is true; But here their worth alone appears in view: The Muse indeed, who reads the very breast, Has something of the secrets there express'd, But yet in charity;--and when she sees Such means for joy or comfort, health or ease, And knows how much united minds effect, She almost dreads their failings to detect; But Truth commands: --in man's erroneous kind, Virtues and frailties mingle in the mind, Happy!--when fears to public spirit move, And even vices do the work of love. {8}

LETTER XVIII.

Bene paupertas Humili tecto contenta latet. SENECA.

Omnes quibu' res sunt minu' secundae, magi' sunt, nescio quo modo, Suspiciosi; ad contumeliam omnia accipiunt magis; Propter suam impotentiam se semper credunt negligi. TEPENT.

Show not to the poor thy pride, Let their home a cottage be; Nor the feeble body hide In a palace fit for thee; Let him not about him see Lofty ceilings, ample halls, Or a gate his boundary be, Where nor friend or kinsman calls.

Let him not one walk behold, That only one which he must tread, Nor a chamber large and cold, Where the aged and sick are led; Better far his humble shed, Humble sheds of neighbours by, And the old and tatter'd bed, Where he sleeps and hopes to die.

To quit of torpid sluggishness the cave, And from the pow'rful arms of sloth be free, 'Tis rising from the dead--Alas! it cannot be. THOMSON.

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THE POOR AND THEIR DWELLINGS. {9}

The Method of treating the Borough Paupers--Many maintained at their own Dwellings--Some Characters of the poor--The Schoolmistress, when aged--The Idiot--The poor Sailor--The declined Tradesman and his Companion--This contrasted with the Maintenance of the Poor in a common Mansion erected by the Hundred--The Objections to this Method: Not Want, nor Cruelty, but the necessary evils of this Mode--What they are--Instances of the Evil--A Return to the Borough Poor--The Dwellings of these--The Lanes and Byways--No Attention here paid to Convenience--The Pools in the Pathways-- Amusements of Sea-port Children--The Town Flora--Herbs on Walls and vacant Spaces- -A female Inhabitant of an Alley--A large Building let to several poor Inhabitants--Their Manners and Habits.

YES! we've our Borough-vices, and I know How far they spread, how rapidly they grow; Yet think not virtue quits the busy place, Nor charity, the virtues crown and grace. "Our Poor, how feed we?"--To the most we give A weekly dole, and at their homes they live; - Others together dwell,--but when they come To the low roof, they see a kind of home, A social people whom they've ever known, With their own thoughts, and manners like their own. At her old house, her dress, her air the same, I see mine ancient Letter-loving dame: "Learning, my child," said she "shall fame command; Learning is better worth than house or land - For houses perish, lands are gone and spent; In learning then excel, for that's most excellent." "And what her learning?" 'Tis with awe to look In every verse throughout one sacred book; From this her joy, her hope, her peace is sought; This she has learned, and she is nobly taught. If aught of mine have gain'd the public ear; If RUTLAND deigns these humble Tales to hear; If critics pardon what my friends approved; Can I mine ancient Widow pass unmoved? Shall I not think what pains the matron took, When first I trembled o'er the gilded book? How she, all patient, both at eve and morn, Her needle pointed at the guarding horn; And how she soothed me, when, with study sad, I labour'd on to reach the final zad? Shall I not grateful still the dame survey, And ask the Muse the poet's debt to pay? Nor I alone, who hold a trifler's pen, But half our bench of wealthy, weighty men, Who rule our Borough, who enforce our laws; They own the matron as the leading cause, And feel the pleasing debt, and pay the just applause: To her own house is borne the week's supply; There she in credit lives, there hopes in peace to die. With her a harmless Idiot we behold, Who hoards up silver shells for shining gold: These he preserves, with unremitted care, To buy a seat, and reign the Borough's mayor: Alas!--who could th' ambitious changeling tell, That what he sought our rulers dared to sell? Near these a Sailor, in that hut of thatch (A fish-boat's cabin is its nearest match), Dwells, and the dungeon is to him a seat, Large as he wishes--in his view complete: A lockless coffer and a lidless hutch That hold his stores, have room for twice as much: His one spare shirt, long glass, and iron box, Lie all in view; no need has he for locks: Here he abides, and, as our strangers pass, He shows the shipping, he presents the glass; He makes (unask'd) their ports and business known, And (kindly heard) turns quickly to his own, Of noble captains, heroes every one, - You might as soon have made the steeple run; And then his messmates, if you're pleased to stay, He'll one by one the gallant souls display, And as the story verges to an end, He'll wind from deed to deed, from friend to friend; He'll speak of those long lost, the brave of old, As princes gen'rous and as heroes bold; Then will his feelings rise, till you may trace Gloom, like a cloud, frown o'er his manly face, - And then a tear or two, which sting his pride; These he will dash indignantly aside, And splice his tale;--now take him from his cot, And for some cleaner berth exchange his lot, How will he all that cruel aid deplore? His heart will break, and he will fight no more. Here is the poor old Merchant: he declined, And, as they say, is not in perfect mind;


The Borough - 30/45

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