« PreviousContinue »
As to a common and most noisome sewer,
The dregs and feculence of every land.
In cities foul example on most minds
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds
In gross and pampered cities Noth and luft,
And wantonness and gluttonous excess.
In cities vice is hidden with moft ease,
Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught
By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there
Beyond the achievement of successful flight.
I do confess them nurseries of the arts,
In which they flourish moft ; where, in the beams
Of warm encouragement, and in the eye
Of public note, they reach their perfect fize.
Such London is, by tafte and wealth proclaimed
The faireft capital of all the world,
By riot and incontinence the worst.
There, touched by Reynolds, a dull blank becomes
A lucid mirror, in which Nature sees
All her reflected features. Bacon there
Gives more than female beauty to a stone,
And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips.
Nor does the chiffel occupy alone
The powers of sculpture, but the style as much;
Each province of her art her equal care.
With nice incision of her guided fteel
She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil
So fterile with what charms foever she will,
The richest scenery and the loveliest forms.
Where finds philosophy her eagle eye,
With which she gazes at yon burning disk
Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots ?
In London: where her implements exact,
With which she calculates, computes, and scans,
All distance, motion, magnitude, and now
Measures an atom, and now girds a world ?
In London. Where has commerce such a mart,
So rich, so thronged, so drained, and so supplied,
As London -- opulent, enlarged, and still
Increasing, London? Babylon of old
Not more the glory of the earth than she,
A more accomplished world's chief glory now.
She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two, That so much beauty would do well to purge ; And show this queen of cities, that fo fair May yet be foul; so witty, yet not wise. It is not seemly, nor of good report, That she is slack in discipline; more prompt To avenge than to prevent the breach of law. That she is rigid in denouncing death On petty robbers, and indulges life
And liberty, and oft-times honour too,
To peculators of the public gold;
That thieves at home muft hang; but he, that puts
Into his overgorged and bloated purse
The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes.
Nor is it well, nor can it come to good,
That, through profane and infidel contempt
Of holy writ, she has presumed to annul
as roundly as she may,
The total ordinance and will of God;
Advancing fashion to the post of truth,
And centering all authority in modes
And customs of her own, till fabbath rites
Have dwindled into unrespected forms,
And knees and haffocks are well-nigh divorced.
God made the country, and man made the town. What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts, That can alone make sweet the bitter draught, That life holds out to all, should moft abound And leaft be threatened in the fields and groves? Poffefs ye therefore, ye who, borne about In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue But that of idlenefs, and taste no scenes But such as art contrives, possess ye ftill Your element; there only can ye shine;
There only minds like yours can do no harm.
Our groves were planted to console at noon
The penfive wanderer in their shades. At eve
The moon-beam, Niding softly in between
The Neeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare
The splendour of your lamps; they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your fongs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scared, and the offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your
It plagues your country. Folly such as your's,
Graced with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, what enemies could never have done,
Our arch of empire, ftedfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.