The Vicar of Wakefield
company a ballad,
which, whatever be its other defects, is I think at least free from
those I have mentioned.'
    A BALLAD.
    'Turn, gentle hermit of the dale, And guide my lonely way, To
where yon taper cheers the vale, With hospitable ray.
    'For here forlorn and lost I tread, With fainting steps and
slow; Where wilds immeasurably spread, Seem lengthening as I
go.'
    'Forbear, my son,' the hermit cries, 'To tempt the dangerous
gloom; For yonder faithless phantom flies To lure thee to thy
doom.
    'Here to the houseless child of want, My door is open still; And
tho' my portion is but scant, I give it with good will.
    'Then turn to-night, and freely share Whate'er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch, and frugal fare, My blessing and repose.
    'No flocks that range the valley free, To slaughter I condemn:
Taught by that power that pities me, I learn to pity them.
    'But from the mountain's grassy side, A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip with herbs and fruits supply'd, And water from the
spring.
    'Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego; All earth-born cares are
wrong: Man wants but little here below, Nor wants that little
long.'
    Soft as the dew from heav'n descends, His gentle accents fell:
The modest stranger lowly bends, And follows to the cell.
    Far in a wilderness obscure The lonely mansion lay; A refuge to
the neighbouring poor, And strangers led astray.
    No stores beneath its humble thatch Requir'd a master's care;
The wicket opening with a latch, Receiv'd the harmless pair.
    And now when busy crowds retire To take their evening rest, The
hermit trimm'd his little fire, And cheer'd his pensive guest:
    And spread his vegetable store, And gayly prest, and smil'd; And
skill'd in legendary lore, The lingering hours beguil'd.
    Around in sympathetic mirth Its tricks the kitten tries, The
cricket chirrups in the hearth; The crackling faggot flies.
    But nothing could a charm impart To sooth the stranger's woe;
For grief was heavy at his heart, And tears began to flow.
    His rising cares the hermit spy'd, With answering care opprest:
'And whence, unhappy youth,' he cry'd, 'The sorrows of thy
breast?
    'From better habitations spurn'd, Reluctant dost thou rove; Or
grieve for friendship unreturn'd, Or unregarded love?
    'Alas! the joys that fortune brings, Are trifling and decay; And
those who prize the paltry things, More trifling still than
they.
    'And what is friendship but a name, A charm that lulls to sleep;
A shade that follows wealth or fame, But leaves the wretch to
weep?
    'And love is still an emptier sound, The modern fair one's jest:
On earth unseen, or only found To warm the turtle's nest.
    'For shame fond youth thy sorrows hush And spurn the sex,' he
said: But while he spoke a rising blush His love-lorn guest
betray'd.
    Surpriz'd he sees new beauties rise, Swift mantling to the view;
Like colours o'er the morning skies, As bright, as transient
too.
    The bashful look, the rising breast, Alternate spread alarms:
The lovely stranger stands confest A maid in all her charms.
    'And, ah,'forgive a stranger rude, A wretch forlorn,' she cry'd;
'Whose feet unhallowed thus intrude Where heaven and you
reside.
    'But let a maid thy pity share, Whom love has taught to stray;
Who seeks for rest, but finds despair Companion of her way.
    'My father liv'd beside the Tyne, A wealthy Lord was he; And all
his wealth was mark'd as mine, He had but only me.
    'To win me from his tender arms, Unnumber'd suitors came; Who
prais'd me for imputed charms, And felt or feign'd a flame.
    'Each hour a mercenary crowd, With richest proffers strove:
Among the rest young Edwin bow'd, But never talk'd of love.
    'In humble simplest habit clad, No wealth nor power had he;
Wisdom and worth were all he had, But these were all to me.
    'The blossom opening to the day, The dews of heaven refin'd,
Could nought of purity display, To emulate his mind.
    'The dew, the blossom on the tree, With charms inconstant shine;
Their charms were his, but woe to me, Their constancy was

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