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THE

HERMIT.

A BALLAD.

(FIRST PRINTED IN THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD, 1765.)

THE

FOLLOWING LETTER,

ADDRESSED TO

THE PRINTER OF THE ST. JAMES'S CHRONICLE,

Appeared in that Paper in June, 1767.

SIR, As there is nothing I dislike so much as newspaper controversy, particularly upon trifles, permit me to be as concise as possible in informing a correspondent of yours, that I recommended Blainville's Travels, because I thought the book was a good one; and I think so still. I said, I was told by the bookseller that it was then first published; but in that, it seems, I was misinformed, and my reading was not extensive enough to set me right.

Another correspondent of yours accuses me of having taken a ballad, I published some time ago, from one* by the ingenious Mr. Percy.t I do not

* " The Friar of Orders Gray,' in Reliques of Anc, Poetry. + Since Dean of Carlisle and Bishop of Dromore.

think there is any great resemblance between the two pieces in question. If there be any, his ballad is taken from mine. I read it to Mr. Percy, some years ago; and he (as we both considered these things as trifles at best) told me, with his usual good humour, the next time I saw him, that he had taken my plan to form the fragments of Shakspeare into a ballad of his own. He then read me his little cento, if I may so call it, and I highly approved it. Such petty anecdotes as these are scarce worth printing; and were it not for the busy disposition of some of your correspondents, the public should never have known that he owes me the hint of his ballad, or that I am obliged to his friendship and learning for communications of a much more important nature.

I am, SIR,
Yours, &c.

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.

THE

HERM IT.

• 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 though 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 who 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 supplied,

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 heaven 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.

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And now when busy crowds retire

To take their evening rest, The hermit trim'd his little fire,

And cheer'd his pensive guest :

And spread his vegetable store,

And gaily press'd, and smild; And, skill'd in legendary lore,

The lingering hours beguild.

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 spied,

With answering care oppress'd : * And whence, unhappy youth, (he cried)

The sorrows of thy breast?

• From better habitations spurn'd,

Reluctant dost thou rove ;
Or grieve for friendship unreturn'd,

Or unregarded love?

6

• Alas! the joys that fortune brings

Are trifling, and decay ;
And those who prize the paltry things,

More trifting still than they.

• And what is friendship but a name,

A charm that lulls to sleep ;
A shade that follows wealth or fame,

And leaves the wretch to weep!

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