Page images

And all your numerous progeny, well-trained But helpless, in few years shall find their hands, And labour too. Meanwhile ye shall not want What, conscious of your virtues, we can spare, Nor what a wealthier than ourselves may send. I mean the man, who, when the diftant poor Need help, denies them nothing but his name.

"But poverty with 'moft, who whimper forth Their long complaints, is self-inflicted woe; The effect of laziness or fottish wafte. 'Now goes the nightly thief prowling abroad For plunder; much folicitous how beft He may compensate for a day of sloth By works of darkness and nocturnal wrong. Woe to the gardener's pale, the farmer's hedge, Plashed neatly, and secured with driven ftakes Deep in the loamy bank. Uptorn by strength, Refiftless in so bad a cause, but lame To better deeds, he bundles up the spoil, An afs's burden, and, when laden moft And heaviest, light of foot steals faft away. Nor does the boarded hovel better guard The well-stacked pile of riven logs and roots From his pernicious force. Nor will he leave Unwrenched the door, however well secured,

Where Chanticleer amidst his haram Neeps
In unsuspecting pomp. Twitched from the perch,
He gives the princely bird, with all his wives,
To his voracious bag, struggling in vain,
And loudly wondering at the sudden change.
Nor this to feed his own. 'Twere some excuse,
Did pity of their sufferings warp aside
His principle, and tempt him into sin
For their support, fo deftitute. But they
Neglected pine at home; themselves, as more
Exposed than others, with less scruple made
His victims, robbed of their defenceless all.
Cruel is all he does. 'Tis quenchless thirst
Of ruinous ebriety, that prompts
His every action, and imbrutes the man.
Oh for a law to noose the villain's neck,
Who ftarves his own; who persecutes the blood
He gave them in his children's veins, and hates
And wrongs the woman, he has sworn to love!

Pass where we may, through city or through town, Village, or hamlet, of this merry land, Though lean and beggared, every twentieth pace Conducts the unguarded nose to such a whiff Of ftale debauch, forth-issuing from the styes, That law has licensed, as makes temperance reel.

There fit, involved and loft in curling clouds
Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor,
The lackey, and the groom : the craftsman there
Takes a Lethean leave of all his toil;
Smith, cobbler, joiner, he that plies the shears,
And he that kneads the dough; all loud alike,
All learned, and all drunk! The fiddle screams
Plaintive and piteous, as it wept and wailed
Its wasted tones and harmony unheard:
Fierce the dispute whate'er the theme ; while the,
Fell Discord, arbitress of such debate,
Perched on the fign-post, holds with even hand
Her undecisive scales. In this she lays
A weight of ignorance; in that, of pride ;
And smiles delighted with the eternal poise.
Dire is the frequent curse, and its twin found
The cheek-diftending oath, not to be praised
As ornamental, musical, polite,
Like those, which modern senators employ,
Whofe oath is rhetoric, and who swear for fame!
Behold the schools, in which plebeian minds
Once fimple are initiated in arts,
Which some may practise with politer grace,
But none with readier skill ! —'tis here they learn
The road, that leads from competence and peace

indigence and rapine; till at laft Society, grown weary of the load,

Shakes her incumbered lap, and cafts them out.
But censure profits little : vain the attempt
To advertise in verse a public peft,
That like the filth, with which the peasant feeds
His hungry acres, ftinks, and is of use.
The excise is fattened with the rich result
Of all this riot; and ten thousand casks,
For ever dribbling out their base contents,
Touched by the Midas finger of the state,
Bleed gold for minifters to sport away.
Drink, and be mad then; 'tis your country bids!
Gloriously drunk obey the important call!
Her cause demands the affiftance of your throats;
Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more.

Would I had fallen upon those happier days, That poets celebrate; those golden times, And those Arcadian scenes, that Maro sings, And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose. Nymphs were Dianas then, and swains had hearts, That felt their virtues : innocence, it seems, From courts dismissed, found shelter in the groves ; The footsteps of fimplicity, impressed Upon the yielding herbage, (so they fing) Then were not all effaced : then speech profane, And manners profligate, were rarely found;

Observed as prodigies, and soon reclaimed. Vain with those days were never : airy dreams Sat for the picture: and the poet's hand, Imparting substance to an empty shade, Imposed a gay delirium for a truth. Grant it: I still must envy them an age, That favoured such a dream ; in days like these Impossible, when virtue is fo scarce, That to suppose a scene where she prefides, Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief. No: we are polished now. The rural lass, Whom once her virgin modesty and grace, Her artless manners, and her neat attire, So dignified, that she was hardly less Than the fair shepherdefs of old romance, Is feen no more. The character is loft! Her head, adorned with lappets pinned aloft, And ribbands streaming gay, superbly raised, And magnified beyond all human fize, Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand For more than half the treffes it sustains; Her elbows ruffled, and her tottering form Ill propped upon French heels; she might be deemed (But that the basket dangling on her arm Interprets her more truly) of a rank Too proud for dairy work, or sale of eggs.

« PreviousContinue »