Page images


THRICE, oh, thrice happy, shepherd's life and state !

When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns ! His cottage low and safely humble gate

Shuts out proud Fortune with her scorns and fawns: No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep,

Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep; Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Syrian worms he knows, that with their thread

Draw out their silken lives: nor silken pride : His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need,

Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed : No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;

For begging wants his middle fortune bite; But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

Instead of music, and base flattering tongues,

Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise ; The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,

And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes :
In country plays is all the strife he uses;

Or sing, or dance unto the rural muses;
And but in music's sports all difference refuses.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,

Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content: The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him

With coolest shades, till noontide rage is spent; His life is neither toss'd in boist'rous seas

Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease : Pleased and full blest he lives, when he his God can please.


His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,

While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
His little son into his bosom creeps,

The lively picture of his father's face:
Never his humble house nor state torment him :

Less he could like, if less his God had sent him ;
And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, content him.


[graphic][merged small]

HER finger was so small, the ring

Would not stay on which they did bring, It was too wide a peck : And, to say truth-for out it must It look'd like the great collar just

About our young colt's neck.

Her feet beneath her petticoat,
Like little mice, stole in and out,

As if they fear'd the light:
But, oh, she dances such a way,
No sun upon an Easter day

Is half so fine a sight!

Her cheeks so rare a white was on,
No daisy makes comparison;

Who sees them is undone ;
For streaks of red were mingled there,
Such as are on a Catherine pear,

The side that's next the sun.

Her lips were red; and one was thin,
Compared to that was next her chin,

Some bee had stung it newly ;
But, Dick, her eyes so guard her face,
I durst no more upon them gaze

Than on the sun in July.

Her mouth so small, when she does speak,
Thou’dst swear her teeth her words did break,

That they might passage get:
But she so handled still the matter,
They came as good as ours or better
And are not spent a whit.



HAVE devoted this book, the labour of years, to the honour of my

country, that we may no longer yield the palm of philology, without a contest, to the nations of the continent. The chief glory of every people arises from its authors : whether I shall add anything by my own writings to the reputation of English literature, must be left to time; much of my life has been lost under the pressures of disease ; much has been trified away; and much has always been spent in provision for the day that was passing over me; but I shall not think my employment useless or ignoble, if, by my assistance, foreign nations and distant ages gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and understand the teachers of truth. ...

In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed ; and though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns, yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it that the English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great ; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amid inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that if our language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an attempt which no human powers have hitherto completed. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed, and comprised in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and delusive; if the aggregated knowledge and co-operating diligence of the Italian academicians did not secure them from the censure of Beni; if the embodied critics of France, when fifty years had been spent upon their work, were obliged to change its economy, and give their second edition another form, I may surely be contented without the praise of perfection, which, if I could obtain in this gloom of solitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds. I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.

« PreviousContinue »