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TO LADY AUSTEN.

1781.

Dear ANNA-between friend and friend, Prose answers every common end; Serves, in a plain and homely way, To express the occurrence of the day; Our health, the weather, and the news; What walks we take, what books we chuse ; And all the floating thoughts we find Upon the surface of the mind.

But when a poet takes the pen, Far more alive than other men, He feels a gentle tingling come Down to his finger and his thumb, Derived from nature's noblest part, The centre of a glowing heart: And this is what the World, who knows No flights above the pitch of prose, His more sublime vagaries slighting, Denominates an itch for writing. No wonder I, who scribble rhyme To catch the triflers of the time, And tell them truths divine and clear, Which, couch'd in prose, they will not hear; Who labour hard to allure and draw The loiterers I never saw, Should feel that itching, and that tingling, With all my purpose intermingling,

To your intrinsic merit true,
When call’d to address myself to you.

Mysterious are His ways, whose power
Brings forth that unexpected hour,
When minds, that never met before,
Shall meet, unite, and part no more :
It is the allotment of the skies,
The hand of the Supremely Wise,
That guides and governs our affections,
And plans and orders our connexions;
Directs us in our distant road,
And marks the bounds of our abode.
Thus we were settled when you found us,
Peasants and children all around us,
Not dreaming of so dear a friend,
Deep in the abyss of Silver-End.*
Thus Martha, e'en against her will,
Perch'd on the top of yonder hill;
And you, though you must needs prefer
The fairer scenes of sweet Sancerre,t.
Are come from distant Loire, to choose
A cottage on the banks of Ouse.
This page of Providence quite new,
And now just opening to our view,
Employs our present thoughts and pains,
To guess and spell what it contains:

* An obscure part of Olney, adjoining to the residence of Cowper, which faced tbe market-place.

# Lady Austen's residence in France.

But day by day, and year by year, Will make the dark enigma clear ; And furnish us, perhaps, at last, Like other scenes already past, With proof, that we and our affairs Are part of a Jehovah's cares: For God unfolds, by slow degrees, The purport of his deep decrees; Sheds every hour a clearer light In aid of our defective sight; And spreads, at length, before the soul, A beautiful and perfect whole, Which busy man's inventive brain Toils to anticipate in vain.

Say, Anna, had you never known The beauties of a rose full blown, Could you, though luminous your eye, By looking on the bud, descry, Or guess, with a prophetic power, The future splendour of the flower? Just so the Omnipotent, who turns The system of a world's concerns, From mere minutiæ can educe Events of most important use; And bid a dawning sky display The blaze of a meridian day. The works of man, tend, one and all, As needs they must, from great to small; And vanity absorbs at length The monuments of human strength.

But who can tell how vast the plan
Which this day's incident began?
Too small, perhaps, the slight occasion
For our dim-sighted observation;
It pass’d unnoticed, as the bird
That cleaves the yielding air unheard,
And yet may prove, when understood,
An harbinger of endless good.

Not that I deem, or mean to call
Friendship a blessing cheap or small;
But merely to remark, that ours,
Like some of nature's sweetest flowers,
Rose from a seed of tiny size,
That seem'd to promise no such prize ;
A transient visit intervening,
And made almost without a' meaning,
(Hardly the effect of inclination,
Much less of pleasing expectation,)
Produced a friendship, then begun,
That has cemented us in one;
And placed it in our power to prove,
By long fidelity and love,
That Solomon has wisely spoken;
A threefold cord not soon broken.'

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ON

MRS. MONTAGU'S FEATHER-HANGINGS.

The Birds put off their every hue,
To dress a room for Montagu.

The Peacock sends his heavenly dyes,
His rainbows and his starry eyes ;
The Pheasant plumes, which round infold
His mantling neck with downy gold;
The Cock his arch'd tail's azure show;
And, river blanch'd, the Swan his snow.
All tribes beside of Indian name,
That glossy shine, or vivid flame,
Where rises and where sets the day,
Whate'er they boast of rich and gay,
Contribute to the gorgeous plan,
Proud to advance it all they can.
This plumage neither dashing shower,
Nor blasts that shake the dripping bower,
Shall drench again or discompose,
But screen’d from every storm that blows,
It boasts a splendour ever new,
Safe with protecting Montagu.

To the same patroness resort,
Secure of favour at her court,
Strong Genius, from whose forge of thought
Forms rise, to quick perfection wrought,
Which, though new-born, with vigour move,
Like Pallas springing arm’d from Jove-

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