How happy in his low degree,
How rich in humble poverty, is he,
Who leads a quiet country life;
Discharged of business, void of strife,
And from the griping scrivener free!
Thus, ere the seeds of vice were sown,
Lived men in better ages born,
Who plough'd, with oxen of their own,
Their small paternal field of corn.
Nor trumpets summon him to war,
Nor drums disturb his morning sleep,
Nor knows he merchants' gainful care,
Nor fears the dangers of the deep.
The clamours of contentious law,
And court and state, he wisely shuns,
Nor bribed with hopes, nor dared with awe,
To servile salutations runs.
The country is no more left as it was originally created, than Belgrave Square remains its pristine swamp. The forest has been felled, the marsh drained, the enclosures planted, and the field ploughed. All these, begging Mr. Cowper’s pardon, are the works of man’s hands ; and so is the town—the one is not more artificial than the other.
Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book XII. 57. 21.
At secura quies et nescia fallere vita,
dives opum uariarum, at latis otia fundis,
speluncae vivique lacus, at frigida tempe
mugitusque boum mollesque sub arbore somni.
[Here] easy quiet, a secure retreat,
A harmless life that knows not how to cheat,
With home-bred plenty the owner bless,
And rural pleasures crown his happiness;
Unvexed with quarrels, undisturb'd with noise,
The country king his peaceful realm enjoys:
Cool grots, and living lakes, the flowery pride
Of meads and streams that through the valley glide;
And shady groves that easy sleep invite,
And after toilsome days a soft repose at night.
Somewhat back from the village street
Stands the old-fashion'd country seat,
Across its antique portico
Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw;
And from its station in the hall
An ancient time-piece says to all,—
Seneca, Med, Act III. 375. Vergil, Georgics (c. 29 BC), I. 30. Thule, the most remote land known to the Greeks and Romans, perhaps Tilemark, Norway, or Iceland. One of the Shetland Islands. Thylensel, according to Camden.