THE LAST LEGEND OF THE HERMITAGE
Sly Love borrow’d April’s buskins of green,
Her white daisied cap, and her pink pelegrine,
Then flew to the dale where sev’n Hermits preside,
Whim, Grief, Spleen, and Folly, Shame, Anger, and Pride.
“Who comes?” said the Porter, and scowl’d thro’ the gate—
“A poor little flow’r-girl your orders to wait:
My basket I fill’d in the gardens of spring,
And hyacinths, jonquils, and violets bring.”
“I chuse a Narcissus,” said Folly, and smil’d—
“Or this scarlet tulip, so vagrant and wild.”
“First shew me your basket,” said Pride, “if you please—
“Let’s see if at last I can purchase heart’s-ease!”
Said Whim—“Pretty nymph, from your garland I take
This pink and wild rose for my cousin Wit’s sake;
These sprigs of fresh laurel he cannot refuse:—
And now, Brother Hermits, what next shall we chuse?”
The flow’r-bearer whisper’d—“This fragrant bouquet
Young Beauty has bought on her toilet to set—
But here is the myrtle, whose ever green leaf,
Distill’d by her hand, is a balsam for grief.
“I found it half-starv’d in an Anchoret’s cell,
Where the dew-drops of Charity froze ere they fell;
The myrtle will lend your lone hermitage shade,
When spring-roses droop and narcissuses fade.”
Spleen said ’twas a gift fit for Vanity’s shrine;
Pert Folly cried, laughing, he wish’d ’twas a vine;
And Pride, their historian, replied, with a sneer,
That women and coxcombs such trifles might rear!
Cried Anger—“’Tis monstrous for sages like us
To cheapen bouquets with a profligate puss—
Go! turn out this thief in a gipsy’s attire!
I’ll take her starv’d myrtle to light up our fire.”
Love, laughing, exclaim’d, “Ye are all April fools!
That myrtle, my sceptre, the universe rules:
The flame it has kindled for ever shall burn,
But love, once rejected, disdains to return!”
The Hermits next day call’d a council of state,
On Cupid’s sly visit incog. to debate—
Said Pride, their grave chairman—“A visit so strange
Our whole commonwealth and its basis will change.
“My statures are libell’d—Spleen raves and looks queer;
Shame hardly remembers how poor he came here:
And Anger, lock’d up in his closet above,
Stays seeking the olive-branch left here by Love.
“While Folly sits learning old sonnets to trim,
Mirth enters incog. to electrify Whim:
He stifles us all with his patent gas-lamp,
And Grief, when he call’d here, thought fit to decamp.
“We soon on a worthy successor must fix,
Unless we reduce our small synod to six:
Since Grief follows Love, and is plotting to wrong us,
Let good Common Sense supercede him among us.”
Thus duly propo’d and elected nem. con.
Good Sense the attire of a Hermit put on:—
Love saw the new member, and said, with a sigh,
“This stranger will govern them longer than I!
“For Spleen chas’d by Mirth must depart in disgrace,
While Folly to Prudence surrenders his place;
Shame, Anger, and Pride, to old Coventry sent.
Will make room for Honesty, Peace, and Content.
“Gay Whim, of his chemical vapours bereft,
Some sweets may distill from the roses I left;
But Love can the hermitage enter no more,
While good Common Sense keeps his seat at the door!”