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- THE ARGUMENT.
The subject proposed....Addressed to Mr. Onslow....A prospect of the fields ready for harvest....Reflections in praise of industry raised by that view....Reaping....A tale relative to it.... A harvest storm....Shooting and hunting; their barbarity....A ludicrous account of fox-hunting.... A view of an orchard.... Wall-fruit....A vineyard....A description of fogs, frequent in the latter part of Autumn ; whence a digression, inquiring into the rise of fountains and rivers....Birds of season considered, that now shift their habitation....The prodigious number of them that cover the northern and western isles of Scotland....Hence a view of the country....A prospect of the discoloured, fading woods....After a gentle dusky day, moon-light....Autumnal meteors....Morning: to which succeeds a calm, pure, sun-shiny day, such as usually shuts up the season....The harvest being gathered in, the country dissolved in joy....The whole concludes with a panegyric on a philosophical country life.
CROWNED with the sickle and the wheaten sheaf, While AUTUMN, nodding o'er the yellow plain, Comes jovial on ; the Doric reed once more, Well pleased, I tune. Whate'er the Wintry frost Nitrous prepared ; the various-blossomed Spring § Put in white promise forth ; and Summer-sums Concocted strong, rush boundless now to view, Full, perfect all, and swell my glorious theme. ONSI.ow ! the Muse, ambitious of thy name, To grace, inspire, and dignify her song, 10 Would from the Public Voice thy gentle ear A while engage. Thy noble cares she knows, The patriot virtues that distend thy thought, Spread on thy front, and in thy bosom glow; While listening senates hang upon thy tongue, 15 Devolving thro' the maze of eloquence A roll of periods, sweeter than her song.
But she too pants for public virtue, she,
Tho' weak of power, yet strong in ardent will,
Whene'er her country rushes on her heart,
Assumes a bolder note, and fondly tries
To mix the patriot's with the poet's flame.
When the bright Virgin gives the beauteous days,
And Libra weighs in equal scales the year;
From heaven's high cope the fierce effulgence shook
Of parting Summer, a serener blue,
With golden light enlivened, wide invests
The happy world. Attempered suns arise,
Sweet-beamed, and shedding oft thro' lucid clouds
A pleasing calm ; while broad, and brown, below
Extensive harvests hang the heavy head,
Rich, silent, deep, they stand ; for not a gale ; : *
Rolls its light billows o'er the bending plain :
A calm of plenty 1 till the ruffled air
Falls from its poise, and gives the breeze to blow.
Rent is the fleecy mantle of the sky; -
The clouds fly different ; and the sudden sun,
By fits effulgent, gilds th’ illumined field,
And black by fits the shadows sweep along.
A gaily-checkered heart-expanding view,
Far as the circling eye can shoot around,
Unbounded tossing in a flood of corn.
These are thy blessings, Industry rough power
Whom labour still attends, and sweat, and pain ;
Yet the kind source of every gentle art, -
And all the soft civility of life :
Raiser of human kind by Nature cast,
Naked, and helpless, out amid the woods
And wilds, to rude inclement elements ;
With various seeds of art deep in the mind
Implanted, and profusely poured around
Materials infinite ; but idle all.
Still unexerted, in the unconscious breast,
Slept the lethargic powers; corruption still,
Voracious, swallowed what the liberal hand
Of bounty scattered o'er the savage year:
And still the sad barbarian, roving, mixed
With beasts of prey ; or for his acorn-meal
Fought the fierce tusky boar; a shivering wretch
Aghast, and comfortless, when the bleak north,
With Winter charged, let the mixed tempest fly,
Hail, rain, and snow, and bitter-breathing frost :
Then to the shelter of the hut he fled ;
And the wild season, sordid, pined away.
For home he had not ; home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where,
Supporting and supported, polished friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss.
But this the rugged savage never felt,
Even desolate in crowds; and thus his days
Rolled heavy, dark, and unenjoyed, along :
A waste of time till Industry approached,
And roused him from his miserable sloth :
His faculties unfolded ; pointed out,
Where lavish Nature the directing hand
Of Art demanded ; shewed him how to raise
His feeble force by the mechanic powers,
To dig the mineral from the vaulted earth,
On what to turn the piercing rage of fire,
On what the torrent, and the gathered blast ;
Gave the tall ancient forest to his ax ;