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But in loose locks of fells she most delights,
And feeble fleeces of distempered sheep,
Whither she hastens, by the morbid scent
Allured; as the swift eagle to the fields
Of slaughtering war or carnage: such apart
Keep for their

proper use. Our ancestors
Selected such, for hospitable beds
To rest the stranger, or the gory chief,
From battle or the chase of wolves returned.

When many-coloured evening sinks behind
The purple woods and hills, and opposite
Rises, full-orbed, the silver harvest-moon,
To light th' unwearied farmer, late afield
His scattered sheaves collecting; then expect
The artists, bent on speed, from populous Leeds,
Norwich, or Froome: they traverse every plain,
And every dale, where farm or cottage smokes:
Reject them not; and let the season's price
Win thy soft treasures: let the bulky wain
Through dusty roads roll nodding; or the bark,
That silently adown the cerule stream
Glides with white sails, dispense the downy freight
To copsy villages on either side,
And spiry towns, where ready Diligence,
The grateful burden to receive, awaits,
Like strong Briareus, with his hundred hands.

In the same fleece diversity of wool
Grows intermingled, and excites the care
Of curious skill to sort the several kinds.
But in this subtle science none exceed
Th’industrious Belgians, to the work who guide
Each feeble hand of want: their spacious domes
With boundless hospitality receive
Each nation's outcasts: there the tender eye

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May view the maimed, the blind, the lame, employed,
And unrejected age; even childhood there
Its little fingers turning to the toil
Delighted: nimbly, with habitual speed,
They sever lock from lock, and long, and short,
And soft, and rigid, pile in several heaps.
This the dusk hatter asks; another shines,
Tempting the clothier; that the hosier seeks;
The long bright lock is apt for airy stuffs;
But often it deceives the artist's care,
Breaking unuseful in the steely comb:
For this long spongy wool no more increase
Receives, while Winter petrifies the fields :
The growth of Autumn stops: and what though

Succeeds with rosy finger, and spins on
The texture? yet in vain she strives to link
The silver twine to that of Autumn's hand.
Be then the swain advised to shield his flocks
From Winter's deadening frosts and whelming snows:
Let the loud tempest rattle on the roof,
While they, secure within, warm cribs enjoy,
And swell their fleeces, equal to the worth
Of clothed Apulian,' by soft warmth improved:
Or let them inward heat and vigour find,
By food of cole or turnip, hardy plants.
Besides, the lock of one continued growth
Imbibes a clearer and more equal dye.

But lightest wool is theirs, who poorly toil,
Through a dull round, in unimproving farms
Of common-field: enclose, enclose, ye swains;
Why will you joy in common-field, where pitch,



110 111

1. Of clothed Apulian :' the shepherds of Apulia, Tarentum, and Attica used to clothe their sheep with skins, to preserve and improve their fleeces.


Noxious to wool, must stain your motley flock,
To mark your property? The mark dilates,
Enters the flake depreciated, defiled,
Unfit for beauteous tint: besides, in fields
Promiscuous held, all culture languishes;
The glebe, exhausted, thin supply receives;
Dull waters rest upon the rushy flats
And barren furrows: none the rising grove
There plants for late posterity, nor hedge
To shield the flock, nor copse for cheering fire;
And, in the distant village, every hearth
Devours the grassy sward, the verdant food
Of injured herds and flocks, or what the plough
Should turn and moulder for the bearded grain;
Pernicious habit, drawing gradual on
Increasing beggary and Nature's frowns.
Add too, the idle pilferer easier there
Eludes detection, when a lamb or ewe
From intermingling flocks he steals; or when,
With loosened tether of his horse or cow,
Tle milky stalk of the tall green-eared corn,
The year's slow-ripening fruit, the anxious hope
Of his laborious neighbour, he destroys.

There are, who over-rate our spongy stores,
Who deem that Nature grants no clime but ours,
To spread upon its fields the dews of heaven,
And feed the silky fleece; that card, nor comb,
The hairy wool of Gaul can e'er subdue,
To form the thread, and mingle in the loom,
Unless a thread from Britain swell the heap:
Illusion all; though of our sun and air
Not trivial is the virtue; nor their fruit,
Upon our snowy flocks, of small esteem:
The grain of brightest tincture none so well


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Imbibes: the wealthy Gobelins' must to this
Bear witness, and the costliest of their looms.

And though, with hue of crocus or of rose,
No power of subtle food, or air, or soil,
Can dye the living fleece; yet 'twill avail
To note their influence in the tinging vase.
Therefore from herbage of old-pastured plains,
Chief from the matted turf of azure marl,
Where grow the whitest locks, collect thy stores.
Those fields regard not, through whose recent turf
The miry soil appears: not even the streams
Of Yare, or silver Stroud, can purify
Their frequent-sullied fleece; nor what rough winds,
Keen-biting on tempestuous hills, imbrown.

Yet much may be performed to check the force Of Nature's rigour: the high heath, by trees Warm sheltered, may despise the rage of storms: Moors, bogs, and weeping fens, may learn to smile, And leave in dykes their soon-forgotten tears. Labour and art will every aim achieve Of noble bosoms. Redford Level,2 erst A dreary pathless waste, the coughing flock Was wont with hairy fleeces to deform; And, smiling with her lure of summer flowers, The heavy ox, vain-struggling, to ingulph; Till one, of that high-honoured patriot name, Russell, arose, who drained the rushy fen, Confined the waves, bid groves and gardens bloom, And through his new creation led the Ouse, And gentle Camus, silver-winding streams : Godlike beneficence; from chaos drear To raise the garden and the shady grove


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1"Gobelins :' founders of the famous tapestry works in Paris. ford Level: ' in Cambridgeshire. 8. Camus :' the Cam.

3. Bed.



But see Ierne's moors and hideous bogs,
Immeasurable tract. The traveller
Slow tries his mazy step on th' yielding tuft,
Shuddering with fear: even such perfidious wilds,
By labour won, have yielded to the comb
The fairest length of wool. See Deeping fens,
And the long lawns of Bourn. 'Tis art and toil
Gives Nature value, multiplies her stores,
Varies, improves, creates: 'tis art and toil
Teaches her woody hills with fruits to shine,
The pear and tasteful apple; decks with flowers
And foodful pulse the fields, that often rise,
Admiring to behold their furrows wave
With yellow corn. What changes cannot toil,
With patient art, effect? There was a time,
When other regions were the swains' delight,
And shepherdless Britannia's rushy vales,
Inglorious, neither trade nor labour knew,
But of rude baskets, homely rustic gear,
Woven of the flexile willow; till, at length,
The plains of Sarum opened to the hand
Of patient culture, and, o'er sinking woods,
High Cotswold showed her summits. Urchinfield,
And Lemster's crofts, beneath the pheasant's

Long lay unnoted. Toil new pasture gives;
And, in the regions oft of active Gaul,
O’er lessening vineyards spreads the growing turf.

In eldest times, when kings and hardy chiefs
In bleating sheepfolds met, for purest wool
Phænicia's hilly tracts were most renowned,
And fertile Syria's and Judæa's land,
Hermon, and Seir, and Hebron's brooky sides:
Twice with the murex, crimson hue, they tinged


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